Caught in a web | Cybercrooks get more innovative

According to Police Commissioner B. Dayananda, Bengaluru has around 18,000 cybercrime cases registered since 2023 till date and one in three people in the city are directly or indirectly victims of online crimes

Updated - February 01, 2024 02:38 pm IST

Published - January 30, 2024 12:59 am IST - Bengaluru

A 55-year-old private firm employee from Mathikere was looking for the customer care number of Railways to cancel his tickets recently. He called a number he found online and a person, who identified himself as Ravi Kumar, a railway employee, offered to help.

Promising to cancel the tickets and refund the amount, Ravi Kumar sought the details of the man’s credit card and asked him to wait for a few minutes. While waiting for the refund, the victim received a transaction alert of debit of ₹1.62 lakh.

Shocked, the victim tried to reach the number again, but was unable to. He filed a complaint with the North Division cyber crime police, who have registered a case and are trying to track down the accused based on the transaction details.

This case is an example of how cyber fraudsters are using different methods to access bank account details to steal money, a senior police officer said. “Though there are different modus operandi to get access to the bank details, the cyber crooks have one point agenda - of stealing money online,” the officer added.

The city has around 18,000 cyber crime cases registered since 2023 to date. One in three people in the city are directly or indirectly victims of cyber crimes, Police Commissioner B. Dayananda said.

Concerned with the growing number of crimes, Mr. Dayananda had set up special teams to investigate the cases in separate groups, with four officers of the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police designated to supervise different categories of cybercrimes, in the wake of new patterns emerging every few months, with the latest being the Aadhaar-enabled Payment System (AePS) fraud.

Under this, the accused steal victims’ Aadhaar and bank details, which are used without the victims’ knowledge to withdraw funds from their bank accounts.

Another common category of cybercrimes being reported in the city is courier fraud, where the accused pose as company executives and officers of law enforcement agencies, like Mumbai crime branch, ED and CBI, and call the victims claiming that they have found contraband parcel in their names and force them to pay huge amounts to avoid legal action.

The other common forms of cybercrime are sextortion, and online job fraud and cryptocurrency online investment scam.

In another case, a 37-year-old software engineer from Horamavu got the shock of his life when he found out that an education institute in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, had taken a property loan of over ₹1 crore misusing his PAN card details.

The fraud came to light when the victim tried to apply for a home loan and found that there was already a property loan pending against him. The police are now seeking details from the financial company to verify the documents submitted to get the loan.

“The most unfortunate thing in these cases is that the victims are educated,” Kuldeep Kumar Jain, DCP, Traffic (East), who is heading the SIT for the courier scam cases, said, citing two recent examples of a retired bank employee and a senior journalist who lost their savings to courier scams.

Both had a suspicion that something was wrong, but followed the instructions of the crooks to share their account details owing to pressure mounted on them.

“People should be very careful about how to secure their personal details and ensure that they will not share any details with strangers,” Mr. Jain said.

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